Monday, October 18, 2010

thoughts on my presentation at Montana Shared Catalog fall meeting

On October 8, I presented at the Montana Shared Catalog fall meeting in Great Falls, Montana. My handout and presentation slides are now online.

I co-presented on OCLC Web-scale Management Services (WMS) with OCLC's Matt Goldner and Sarah McHugh of the Montana State Library (who also serves on the library advisory group for the WMS product that's currently in early adopter release).

One valuable part of the day, for me, was simply to attend a shared catalog meeting and to gain a better understanding of the kinds of issues and trade-offs that group catalog participants have to deal with. Given the Orbis Cascade Alliance's strategic agenda (with a "shared bibliographic database" identified as a strategic goal), this was very informative.

The meeting page also links to the group catalog's budget and the fiscal benefits of a shared catalog system are very compelling - by my understanding, the consortium pays approximately $180K per year in support for its Unicorn system to SirsiDynix.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

a starting point...

I shifted to microblogging for much of 2010, after maintaining a library technology blog for an extended period. I've decided to launch a blog that enables me to communicate in writing - in more than 140 characters. In this space, I intend to focus on technology issues, with an emphasis on library technology.

I've chosen the title based upon my experience and knowledge in working in two technical fields, computing and nuclear engineering, and based on the importance of identifying and investigating multiple means for achieving a technical goal.

In the Naval Reactors program that I worked in for several years, pressurized water reactor technology has been the core technology since the 1950s - but it was only selected after a competing approach (sodium cooled, intermediate range reactors) was thoroughly investigated, through the construction of a prototype plant and a commissioned submarine (the Seawolf). This parallel approach was guided by the Manhattan Engineer District's approach, several years earlier, in its split development paths for the U235 and Pu239 nuclear weapons.

In library technology, we face a generational change in library systems. The foundational technology of libraries today is the integrated library system and libraries are struggling to meet user expectations in today's tight fiscal environment with legacy systems. (For a view of this, see Marshall Breeding's analysis of ILS turnover in the year 2009.) As we approach this generational change and work to serve users in a rapidly changing information technology environment, we likewise need to identify and investigate solutions thoughtfully and systematically.